Many folk will recall Norman Rockwell, a remarkable artist whose works were frequently featured in the “Saturday Evening Post”. Such was his profile that when President John Kennedy was assassinated, Rockwell’s portrait of him was shown on the magazine’s cover.
A book that brings to life our recognition of Christmas is “Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book” in which his art is supported by carols, stories, poems and recollections. It begins with a Bible text from Luke 2:1-16, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
The composition of the Christmas Book has a sincere message – in the early pages, Rockwell assembles portraits of nearly 20 people of various cultures, supported by a Biblical message, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The pages continue with brief literary contributions from writers such as Shakespeare, John Milton and others.
A challenge to us as we go about our busy lives is featured in Rockwell’s drawing of a cathedral entrance with the message “Lift Up Thine Eyes” and this is ignored by the several pedestrians walking past with their eyes fixed on the footpath. The carols of Christmas are included, interspersed with art work.
Have you had the experience of reading a book and having the text imprint on your mind? It may be a learning process, a role in modifying an emotion, or an emotional experience. And when the book has been received as a gift, we recall the person who made the choice and gave it to us.
There are many occasions when we enter a bookstore and choose a book to satisfy some interest. The Australian Booksellers Association lists some of those motivations:
1. Lost your mojo
2. On the hunt for a new recipe
3. Looking for a bedtime story
4. In a dud relationship
5. Need to escape
6. Hungry for knowledge.
Step into an unusual book – author Joel Salatin, well known to regional farming communities for his books “Salad Bar Beef” and “Pastured Poultry Profits”, has now released “The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs”. Joel’s vision of the world is alive as a Christian farmer; he puts his faith to work in the care of the animals and the land, producing food based on spiritual principles.
A recent title to the shelves is “Why On Earth Do You Still Read the Bible?” by Norm Habel. It is the story of an Australian biblical scholar’s painful yet fulfilling discovery that education, study, research, lifestyle and other issues can be viewed through new “lenses” and with renewed hope. It is an encouragement to not be afraid of the challenges – the text identifies commitment to connect faith and life.
In 1843 Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” which is his story of a solitary miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is taught the true meaning of Christmas Day. Scrooge experiences a series of ghostly visitors who impact on his attitude to life.
In “The Bookshop Book” Jen Campbell takes us on a tour of the world where English is spoken, listing features of the various bookshops of note. The issue that emerges is that bricks and mortar bookshops are popular destinations with many people, and she looks into the various factors which attract readers to their chosen sources for reading matter. One of the most enduring bookshops is “Shakespeare and Company” in Paris. In 1917 an American woman, Sylvia Beach, moved to Paris to study French literature and, just afterwards, opened her shop. Last year one of our Dubbo customers was in Paris and mailed us a postcard featuring “Shakespeares” bookstore. For some people, their favourite bookstore becomes their destination whenever the opportunity occurs.
Just printed is the Australian Booksellers Association’s annual Kids Reading Guide for 2016-2017.It includes handpicked and reviewed titles for young people. It features recently released titles in sections – baby and toddler, picture books, junior fiction, middle fiction and teen reading. There is also a listing of audio books – CDs and MP3s.
Now that the HSC final exams have been completed, so often a young person comes into our shop to offer a resume with the aim of securing employment. Two things come to mind. One is that there are remarkable, personable young people ready to enter the workforce. The other is that they face a tremendous challenge because retail traders are restricting employee numbers as they compete with supermarket operators and the internet.
Having spent 12 years at school, having to then contend with reduced employment opportunities is a tough lesson for them. Inspiring support comes in reading “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz.
A final item in the Norman Rockwell book is a wonderful reminder of a child’s appreciation of Christmas. It begins with a letter from a child:
I am 8 years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Clause. Papa says ‘If you see it in ‘The Sun’ (newspaper) it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth: is there a Santa Claus?
A memorable reply in the newspaper runs:
Dear Virginia, Your little friends are wrong...
The extended message finishes: The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
The New York Sun
September 21, 1897
A classical text that honours Christmas in our lifetime.
Enjoy your browsing,